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Maggot Feeding Station for Poultry

Susan Monroe


Joined: Sep 30, 2008
Posts: 1093
Location: Western WA
The price of regular layer pellets for my hens has about doubled, so I have been investigating other sources of nutrition for them.

One of the things they can’t do without is protein.  They have been doing an excellent job of de-bugging my property, but since I don’t know the amount of bugs they’re actually finding to eat, I was thinking of other sources.  I’m not crazy about feeding them roadkill, which they would eat, but there’s considerable ‘ick factor’ involved, not to mention the smell.  And feeding chicken carcasses to them may not instigate cannibalism, but why risk it?  And the lesson of BSE (Bovine Spongiform Encephalomyelitis), caused by feeding cows to cows should have indicated that it isn’t a good practice.

Then someone suggested maggots.  Weeeeell…. I danced around that for a while.  Then I discovered a website where the guy puts various meats that are attractive to flies into a bucket, buried in leaves or other loose plant material. The flies lay eggs in the meat, the eggs hatch (in a matter of hours in warm weather) and they crawl through the leaves, through holes in the bucket and drop to the ground to pupate (they won’t pupate in the bucket).  But they don’t pupate because the chickens eat them. They don’t pupate, and they don’t turn into flies.  And they hardly stink at all.  Maybe you wouldn’t want to do this on a small lot near the house, but I can’t see a problem doing it on my acre, and the girls are only about 100 ft from the house.

Read about the specifics here http://www.themodernhomestead.us/article/Feeding-Chickens-Maggots.html and see if it looks like something that could contribute to your chickens’ diet.

Sue
paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 14169
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
Well ...  it is interesting ... 

For myself, it violates my first law of farming:  if it stinks, you're doing it wrong.

So the fella starts with a beaver and cuts it into five pieces and then puts each of five pieces into a bucket.  Why not take one piece and cut it into five more pieces and throw those pieces to the chickens?  Put the other four into the fridge and then throw a new piece out each day? 

Have you explored soldier flies?  Or mealworms?


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Leah Sattler


Joined: Jun 26, 2008
Posts: 2603
i've seen that but I just couldn't do it. chickens are really gross enough already with out adding rotting meat to the equation. pellets are getting terribly expensive. I have thought about growing crickets or mealworms. I've done crickets before and they are really easy.


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paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 14169
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
I have to admit, I REALLY like the creativity of this.

And I think there are other fascinating bits of info with it.

For one thing, it does feed the chickens that which they eat by nature:  live bugs.  As opposed to mammal meat.  That seems smart. 

Another big plus:  consider the cornish-rock cross.  If they had feed like this available around the clock, might they be better foragers?

The more I think about it, the more I like this general idea.  I would just need to find a way so that it doesn't violate my first law of farming.



Susan Monroe


Joined: Sep 30, 2008
Posts: 1093
Location: Western WA
First off, I don't really have much access to beavers.  I tend to eat more chicken and some hamburger.  The main advantage is not having to go outside and ACQUIRE stuff, just use what you have.  Leaves I can get.  Chicken guts, tails, skins and wingtips, I have already. Occasionally something gets lost in the back of the refrigerator, or in the bottom drawer, and that would work, too.  It isn't like you're feeding rotting garbage to the birds directly.  Rubbery hard-cooked eggs.  Floater eggs, but not rotten yet. I have a neighbor who puts stuff out to defrost, gets an invitation to dinner, and only remembers the long-defrosted stuff a week later. Perfect.

Actually, if you get past the beavers, he says just a small amount of 'stuff', with leaves under and on top of it doesn't smell much.  And the flies don't have any problem crawling underneath to get to it.  It probably doesn't smell any more than fresh poop from a horse in it's stall. Actually, you could probably use fresh manure.

I am looking at the simpleness of it:  a bucket with holes drilled in it, hung above the ground.  A couple inches of leaves (free), some fresh or thawed chicken guts or leftover furry spaghetti from the back corner of the refrigerator, another couple of inches of leaves. And a lid.

It just doesn't seem like it would get any simpler than that. Leaf waste + kitchen waste = fresh, natural, tasty chicken food.

As the author of the article says, it also reduces the fly population when the female fly thinks she's producing the next generation, and the chickens are thinking, "Oh, no, you aren't either!"

Then plant the chicken yard perimeter with elderberries, pigeon pea, tagasaste and some other stuff, and maybe even a few patches of wheat, sorghum and quinoa just outside the chicken yard, to cut and toss over the fence for the chickens to harvest themselves. A few dust bath areas with diatomaceous earth mixed in, a source of calcium, fresh water and it should have everything a happy chicken could want.

Then I would only have to buy layer pellets in winter.  And if I could raise the grains intensively and store it well, maybe not even that.

Sue
Leah Sattler


Joined: Jun 26, 2008
Posts: 2603
I could see doing it with bits of leftovers. problem is that the stink is what attracts the flies isnt' it?
Susan Monroe


Joined: Sep 30, 2008
Posts: 1093
Location: Western WA
Food certainly doesn't need to stink to attract flies --- having a BBQ is proof of that!  I think they're just always looking for a site to lay eggs.

Technically, the bucket of whatever would resemble a compost pile.  Since I have a lot of raccoons around here, I don't add meat to my compost pile, but I could if I wanted to, as there's nothing wrong with doing that.

Granted, it did take me a bit to get to thinking like this  , but a perforated bucket with leaves and spoiled food (raw or other) is just another form of a compost pile.  Except that it doesn't get a real chance to compost.

To tell the truth, I have the feeling that some meat scraps buried in leaves is going to stink a lot less than the poop generated by the three English Mastiffs that live behind me. 

Like humanure, this may be more of a mental/emotional stumbling block than a physical (or scented) one.  But when warm weather (aka 'fly weather' returns, I think I'll try it.

After all, if it doesn't work, I can just empty the bucket contents into a bag and drop it at the dump.  Or even just bag the whole bucket.  There's no being locked into it if it doesn't work.  After all, I've made mistakes before this, and will again! 

Life is like gardening:  some things work and some things don't. 

Sue
Leah Sattler


Joined: Jun 26, 2008
Posts: 2603
its definitly a bit of a mental thing for me. Whether or not something stinks or is gross really isn't a good indicator of usefulness. My bucks stink to high heavan this time of year and think it is attractive to pee all overthemselves and shower in the ladies pee whenever they get a chance. that definitly gets the gross and stinky factor! 
Susan Monroe


Joined: Sep 30, 2008
Posts: 1093
Location: Western WA
If I had goats (and I would if I could afford appropriate fencing), I would rather pay to have the girls serviced that keep a buck around.  WHOOOOOEEEE!  They really do stink!

I guess it's just a mindset thing.  My sister nearly had a cow when she saw my rubbing old horse apples between my bare hands to add to my potting soil mix.

Sue
Leah Sattler


Joined: Jun 26, 2008
Posts: 2603
It is funny how some things are just beyond terrible to some people and nothing for others. when I first met my dh I was caring for a horse that had nearly torn its rear leg off when it got hung up in a trailer. my job was to clean out the wound several times per day. I could reach up inside the horse from the inside "armpit" of and wiggle my fingers and poke the skin out from inside the leg. hard to describe. the muscle was torn badly very far. my future hubby about died. next time he even brought the video camera he thought it was so freaky. That horse would stand like a rock only tensing mildly while I did it with absolutely no tranqulizers. poor accident prone Mo. fell off a ramp the next year. that eventually did him in.
Susan Monroe


Joined: Sep 30, 2008
Posts: 1093
Location: Western WA
I worked for a vet for 12 years, and saw a lot of gross stuff.  It's funny, there were people who could help handle their badly injured pet, but others would faint when their dog got a rabies vaccination (she was a human nurse).  A guy fainted and fell on top of me when I was doing a simple nail trim on his puppy.  He was a big guy and had me and the pup pinned to the table.  I was finally able to yell for help, but those running footsteps seemed to take forever to get there!

It was that job that made me back off from growing maggots for the chickies.  I had nightmares about maggots.

Sue
Leah Sattler


Joined: Jun 26, 2008
Posts: 2603
thats hilarious! I guess I have a strong stomach. I rarely find things gross, just interesting. although I have "ichy" issues. As in fish. hack up a goat or a chicken play with a reptile or a rat. no prob. don't make me cut up a fish. I recently held a fish I caught for the first time. isn't THAT stupid. I had to do it because now I have daughter and I do'nt want to pass my irrational fear on to her. I think I was eaten by pirhannas in a previous life.
forest gardener


Joined: Nov 01, 2008
Posts: 12
I just love this, what a great idea!

I have been compiling a list a plants to get going around my farm before introducing chickens.  High protein sources are hard to come by.

I can't wait to try this!
Leah Sattler


Joined: Jun 26, 2008
Posts: 2603
forest gardener - I found this site with lots of chicken forage ideas http://www.greenharvest.com.au/seeds/info_sheet/poultry_forage.html
dvmcmrhp52 Hatfield


Joined: Nov 10, 2008
Posts: 92
Intersting idea, but one question.......
Being a horse owner, parasites are always an issue, will this maggot creating technique also introduce unwanted parasites to the chickens diets?

I don't know the answer, but it may be something to look into.


Laughter is the best medicine.
http://www.lawntimes.com
paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 14169
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
I'm pretty sure that we're talking about very different things - so I suspect that there won't be any problem down that path. 

Susan Monroe


Joined: Sep 30, 2008
Posts: 1093
Location: Western WA
This maggot feeding station just creates maggots for the chickens to eat.  These would be just regular old fly maggots, as would be found in any exposed garbage, or laid in manure. 

The flies lay eggs in the 'stuff' (say moldy leftover spaghetti) you put out for them, the females lay eggs there, expecting to be producing the next generation of flies.  But the maggots crawl out of the bucket to pupate in the soil, and the chickens get them.

I looked up horse parasites and found this list of common ones http://www.diagnosteq.com/intestine.html but none of them seem to use garbage as part of their lifecycle.  Bot flies seemed the closest, but their lifecycle doesn't involve garbage, either, as explained in this article:  http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/IG136

So, even if you have horses and chickens, and wanted to do this maggot feeding station, I can't see anything that would contribute a problem to your horses.  The only possible result that I can see is some of the flies you would have in the area normally might use the maggot feeding station and end up NOT producing any actual flies because the chickens get them as maggots, before they pupate.

I can't imagine any of MY girls missing a tasty tidbit.  Those beady little eyes don't miss much.

Sue
dvmcmrhp52 Hatfield


Joined: Nov 10, 2008
Posts: 92
SueinWA wrote:
This maggot feeding station just creates maggots for the chickens to eat.  These would be just regular old fly maggots, as would be found in any exposed garbage, or laid in manure.   

The flies lay eggs in the 'stuff' (say moldy leftover spaghetti) you put out for them, the females lay eggs there, expecting to be producing the next generation of flies.  But the maggots crawl out of the bucket to pupate in the soil, and the chickens get them.

I looked up horse parasites and found this list of common ones http://www.diagnosteq.com/intestine.html but none of them seem to use garbage as part of their lifecycle.  Bot flies seemed the closest, but their lifecycle doesn't involve garbage, either, as explained in this article:   http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/IG136

So, even if you have horses and chickens, and wanted to do this maggot feeding station, I can't see anything that would contribute a problem to your horses.  The only possible result that I can see is some of the flies you would have in the area normally might use the maggot feeding station and end up NOT producing any actual flies because the chickens get them as maggots, before they pupate.
I can't imagine any of MY girls missing a tasty tidbit.  Those beady little eyes don't miss much.

Sue



Hadn't thought of that one, and who could ever deal with less flies?
Susan Monroe


Joined: Sep 30, 2008
Posts: 1093
Location: Western WA
I've watched my hens see a fly land within reach, and that fly is a goner. 

I only have four hens, and they are usually allowed to roam over most of my acre.  In the five years I've had them, I've noticed a reduced number of locusts (I haven't seen one in two years), slugs, and earwigs.  It could be coincidence, but I don't think so.

If I turn over a piece of wood and find termites, I call 'The Girls' and they come a-running.  They loooove termites, and will reduce rotten wood to dust if they can, all in search of those tasty little maggoty things.  Ant eggs, yummy!

If they don't seem to get the message, I just get a bit of scratch and scatter it over the 'prey', and they catch on really fast.

However, they don't like ants (probably because of the formic acid/vinegar taste), and they don't much care for sowbugs.  And they absolutely refuse to touch bittercress, the stuff that was the reason I bought them in the first place.  They will occasionally eat a large slug, but it makes their beaks sticky.

One thing I did learn from a friend:  teach your chicks to come when you call them.  I put some scratch in a can and rattle it as I call.  They quickly learned that when I call, there is something tasty to eat.  It's also a good way to move them from one area to another --- far, far better than trying to catch them.

My chickens, the only employees I can afford...

Sue
Leah Sattler


Joined: Jun 26, 2008
Posts: 2603
mice are another pest that those avian employees will help control. They don't lay in wait like a cat and therefore miss the really sneaky ones but if they catch one out in the open its a goner. too bad they eat my frogs too. I like my frogs
Kathleen Sanderson


Joined: Feb 28, 2009
Posts: 942
Location: Near Klamath Falls, Oregon
Susan, have you thought of getting a duck or two for slug control?  (I'm so glad that we don't have a slug problem on the dry side of the Cascades, LOL!)

I clicked on this thread because I've been thinking about using the 'maggot bucket' to supplement protein for my hens -- somewhere I read or heard to use a grain mash to breed the maggots, instead of meat scraps (meat scraps get fed directly to the chickens or the dogs at my house).

Kathleen
Susan Monroe


Joined: Sep 30, 2008
Posts: 1093
Location: Western WA
Hello, Kathleen!

I have considered ducks for slug patrol, but I don't currently have a way to keep them safe from predators. 

Sue
paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 14169
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
I remember once running some three month old chickens in a paddock where there was an ant hill.  The anthill went untouched for two days.  On the third day, they discovered it and wiped it out.
Leah Sattler


Joined: Jun 26, 2008
Posts: 2603
my chickens love to scratch in any loose soil including anthills but I have yet to actually watch any of them eat an ant.  I wonder if it depends on the species (of ant)
Susan Monroe


Joined: Sep 30, 2008
Posts: 1093
Location: Western WA
Ants are said to smell or taste like vinegar.  Maybe that is why?

Sue
Leah Sattler


Joined: Jun 26, 2008
Posts: 2603
I accidentally made my own maggot farm! I ran out of the usual pelleted pine bedding I use in the bottom of my birds cage and used some cat litter. He eats whatever we happen to be eating and half the time he tosses it on the floor of his cage because it doesn't suit his tastes  (then of course he starts in on "tigger want cheese/apple/cracky" or whatever  ( cracky is a hybrid word of cracker and cookie....I guess to him they seem the same). anyway. the cage also got soaked a few days before from an especially vigourous bathing of the bird with a sprayer (tiggers all time favorite pastime next to trying to bite the cats tails is getting a good wingpit drenching) I went to change the litter and...eeeewwwww.....there are maggots in the bottom of the cage......I took it out to the chickens and hollered and they all came running and dutifully picked all the little buggers out. 
Gwen Lynn


Joined: Sep 04, 2008
Posts: 736
Ants are a source of formic acid. Hence the vinegar-iness.

http://www.henriettesherbal.com/eclectic/kings/acidum-form.html

http://www.dgsgardening.btinternet.co.uk/ant.htm

The above site is from the UK. It's yet another site that mentions feeding the ants something to make them swell up and die. I still can't help but wonder if anyone has actually tried this or if it's just urban legend that is getting passed around.
Leah Sattler


Joined: Jun 26, 2008
Posts: 2603
I have seen my chickens tilt their head and closely examine ants and then walk away. I wonder if they are looking for larve when they are scratching in an anthill? wouldnt' the larvae be pretty far down in the colony though?
Gwen Lynn


Joined: Sep 04, 2008
Posts: 736
You'd think so, but sometimes I'll move a rock or a board in the yard and the larvae are right there. Maybe it depends on where the ants have set up home.
Gwen Lynn


Joined: Sep 04, 2008
Posts: 736
If it were me, I'd take a shovel (and the chickens) out with me and dig out an anthill to see where the larvae are. The chickens could go for it then! (Wouldn't do this on a fire ant mound though!)
paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 14169
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
I wish I could read the sepp holzer pamphlet on ants to be able to tell which ants I want to keep around and which ants I want to encourage the chickens to eat.
Gwen Lynn


Joined: Sep 04, 2008
Posts: 736
Have you ever thought about Rosetta Stone? I'm not familiar with it, but I know someone who used it to learn to speak spanish. I know german is much harder & I've been told...if you don't use it you lose it! As long as Sepp's books & info has been around, I'm really surprised there aren't more translations. 
paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 14169
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
Aparently, he has four books.  One is translated to english.  The one that is a sort of biography.  Apparently the others are being translated to english now.
Gwen Lynn


Joined: Sep 04, 2008
Posts: 736
That's good! Sounds like Sepp's books will make the permie best seller list!
Pzdarter Hatfield


Joined: Jan 20, 2010
Posts: 1
With regard to the depth in the ant colony of the larvae, the ants will move them up to the warmth near the surface, then take them back down as the day cools. You can try placing an upturned mug or similar over the colony with an edge propped up, then return later and flip it over. You may well see that the ants have brought them up into this chamber. I saw this on a nature programme here in uk.
                    


Joined: Oct 23, 2011
Posts: 0
Joel Salatin's (who else?) solution to this is deep carbon-rich bedding for all animals in the wintertime.  Bedding with a depth of at least a foot can apparently provide chickens with all the grubs they need.  Polyface came up with a winter "Raken" house, where rabbit cages are suspended at about waist height and chickens live on the floor below.  The rabbit urine and droppings help stimulate the production of grubs, and the chickens keep everything oxygenated by scratching around finding the bugs.  He says there is no smell (he's all about the no smelly farming rule), even with a high density of notoriously stinky animals living totally confined.  They use wood chips for bedding, seems the ideal material for this as it won't break down or get compacted too much too soon. 

Seems to me it would take at least a couple of weeks before the bugs really get going in the bedding.  I wonder if you could kick start the process in the autumn?  Put the bedding in their winter quarters and get some kind of nitrogen in there ahead of their move-in time (my idea is to have the pigs hang out on top for a bit - maybe this is where they can be grain-finished before slaughter?), so that the bug populations are well established when the chickens arrive full time. 

I've heard of the maggot bucket thing as a fish feeding technique as well.  In the fox fire books several old people say that road kill or the like was regularly cut open and tossed in the chicken run in the winter.  They appreciate some kind of protein, even if their human caretakers are grossed out by it. 

I've been researching chicken nutrition intensely because we're determined not to buy very much feed when we acquire them.  That's a big part of the reason we got the intense grain grinder we did.  It comes with coarse plates for making meal and whatnot. 
paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 14169
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
Here's a pic of a maggot feeder at inspiration farm:



[Thumbnail for maggot_feeder.jpg]

Jordan Lowery
volunteer

Joined: Sep 26, 2009
Posts: 1527
Location: zone 7
    
  11
i quickly scanned through the thread and did not see mention of the black soldier fly. it is an excellent source of protein for the chickens. they self harvest in the right homemade container, native to north america, they eat anything and everything from veggie scraps to meat scraps and anything else the worms will not eat, no pathogen connection with humans, adults dont even have mouths, and you get fly maggot castings to feed to a wormbin. Hermetia illucens is the scientific name. they are by far my chickens favorite treats.

i have a very good link i need to find for you all.


The ultimate goal of farming is not the growing of crops, but the cultivation and perfection of human beings. - Masanobu Fukuoka
jacque greenleaf
volunteer

Joined: Jan 21, 2009
Posts: 458
Location: Underwood, WA (USDA zone 7, Sunset zone 3) - in the Columbia Gorge highlands
I knew some people who hung one of those bug zapper things in the corner of their chicken run. The chickens learned very quickly what that blue flash meant. I wouldn't go out and buy a zapper, but if I knew where an unused one was, I'd make use of it.

Meal worms seem very easy and cheap to raise.

Has anyone raised hatchery chicks on foods other than chick feed? How did you do it?
Kathleen Sanderson


Joined: Feb 28, 2009
Posts: 942
Location: Near Klamath Falls, Oregon
jacqueg wrote:
I knew some people who hung one of those bug zapper things in the corner of their chicken run. The chickens learned very quickly what that blue flash meant. I wouldn't go out and buy a zapper, but if I knew where an unused one was, I'd make use of it.

Meal worms seem very easy and cheap to raise.

Has anyone raised hatchery chicks on foods other than chick feed? How did you do it?


I've read some about how chicks were raised before commercial feeds were available.  They usually got finely-ground grains, crumbled boiled eggs, and maybe a dish of milk, sour or fresh.  Probably other things you can give them, too, if you have them.

Kathleen
 
 
subject: Maggot Feeding Station for Poultry
 
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